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Darling promises support for UK games industry

Chancellor offers measures similar to film industry; "we need to keep British talent in this country"

The chancellor, Alistair Darling, has promised support for the UK games industry in today's Budget.

Although full details are yet to be revealed, the chancellor promised measures that will be similar to those currently aimed at reinvigorating the British film industry.

"Our creative industries are a huge source of jobs, wealth and pride," said Darling. "I will offer help to the computer games sector similar to the steps which are helping to restore the fortunes of the British film industry.

"This is a highly successful, growing industry, with half its sales coming from exports and we need to keep British talent in this country."

Earlier this month the minister for Digital Britain, Stephen Timms, told GamesIndustry.biz the government would address the case for videogame tax relief in the UK, stating that the interactive entertainment industry was one which can help the country recover from wider economic problems.

"I think there's no doubt - the government is in no doubt - that the computer games sector is one part of the economy where we can see very good prospects for growth in the future, he said.

"So we're looking at the industry in a new way as we're looking at the economy in a new way as one of the contributors to what we need to see in the UK as we come out of this very deep and difficult economic worldwide problem."

More details of the tax relief plan can be read here.

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Latest comments (29)

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D6 years ago
Sat and watched this along with my wife, who's an animator. We both cheered with the man with the dark eyebrows announced something:)

We have friends who work in the movie industry, and have seen firsthand how well the film tax breaks have helped the movie industry here. Hopefully a similar system for the games industry can have similar results.

Here's to a speedy introduction, and not waiting on EU approval.
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Lewis Mills Creative Partner, Ninja Beaver Studios6 years ago
Wow. What a lot of nothing. "We're going to give universities money to train students to go into an industry that is falling apart at the seams in this country". Bah.
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Fran I am with you mate. Let's take the good news and raise a glass, the Government have listened and the countless meetings have come to something. Hats off to Stephen Timms, a very decent man and a man who has always taken an interest in computer and video games.
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Show all comments (29)
Ed Bartlett Business Development 6 years ago
Great news, just a shame it has take so long. For some people it will be too little too late. But good news nonetheless. well done to all involved.
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Lewis Mills Creative Partner, Ninja Beaver Studios6 years ago
Whoa! Hold on. Did I miss something? I can't remember the Chancellor saying anything about tax breaks for the industry?
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Karl Jeffery Founder & CEO, Arooga6 years ago
Provided the structure is as generous as the UK film industry scheme this is brilliant news - this tax break allied to the low value of the vs $ & Yn may spark a renaissance in UK development :-)
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Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix6 years ago
Lewis - he didn't go into details, but said that measures would be put in place similar to that for the film industry, which does involve tax relief. Of course, all of this is being said ahead of a General Election, so while the intention's there, there's no guarantee...
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Lewis Mills Creative Partner, Ninja Beaver Studios6 years ago
Ah. It was in the full Budget report. After "consultation". Not much use if Labour are out at the next election.
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Hugh Binns Company Director, Eurocom Entertainment Software6 years ago
This is the text from the budget report :

Tax Incentive - British video games

The Government announced in the Budget its intention, subject to State aid approval, to introduce a new tax relief for the UK video games industry. This will support game development by the UK video games industry. It will be introduced once the detailed design has been settled, and the relief approved by the European Commission as State aid. The Government will be consulting later this year on the design of the new relief.
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I think if the Tories win the election they'll still follow through with the tax relief. If it wasn't in this budget, then they would have had the freedom to just ignore the industry. Now they have to actively take the tax relief away from us, effectively setting out to kill an industry rather than just letting it quietly die...and that just wouldn't look good at all.
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Lewis Mills Creative Partner, Ninja Beaver Studios6 years ago
Ok. I'm really trying not to rain an anybodies parade here. Tax breaks for the industry would be a good thing, it's unlikely to happen overnight and as Fran says could take a number of years. The Tories are most likely to bring in tax breaks as well, but in the meantime the UK is still suffering whilst other countries walk away with smiles on their faces.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D6 years ago
@ Hugh:

Yeah, I just read that. Takes the gloss off it a little bit, tbh. If they start consultations later this year on the detailed design, and you assume that process takes at least six months, then realistically you're looking at 12 months from now before they approach the European Commission for approval. As for how long after that, I'd bet on at least another six months, especially if the Commission has queries/wants parts of it changed.

Obviously all very good news, just a little frustrating it can't happen more quickly. I'd agree with Andy too, can't really see the Tories scrapping it (although I actually can't see them winning the election but that's another story).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 24th March 2010 2:39pm

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Jonathan Murphy Lead Artist, Infusion Games6 years ago
Another step in the right direction. Lets hope there is enough of an industry left if/when the relief scheme is implemented.
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Its certainly a good step in the right direction as Jonathan says. It might be a while, but certainly time to reclaim the crown from Canada. Soonish! :) And bring to fore, waht is great about UK plc. the Games, Entertainment and Creative Industries!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 24th March 2010 3:46pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend6 years ago
I would put a tenner on this never happening, as it's just the usual pre election crap they troll out to make those fence voters fall to one side. I would start cheering when something actually happens and love to be proved wrong, but only time will tell.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 24th March 2010 3:53pm

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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D6 years ago
@ Darren

Yeah, it'll be slow, for sure. But I think this one will actually happen. There are a lot of other initiatives they could have announced that would have won more votes. On the other hand, this won't win that many, but makes sense - after all, games is a foreign currency earner and god knows we have few of them left in this country.

If it doesn't happen by the end of next year (hey, I did say slow;)), I'll send you a shiny new tenner!
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At least it might stop the Uk to canada brain drain for a change. Nevertheless, this announcement still wont change the way I'm going to vote :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 24th March 2010 4:40pm

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Alex Wright-Manning Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Datascope6 years ago
Bloody hell. I'm really pleased. I think we can all agree that this is a 'very good start'. Oh Darling, I think I love you.....
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"The first rule of counter-espionage is to suspect everyone, Darling. Believe me, I shall be asking myself some pretty searching questions later on. Now, what is the colour of the Queen of England's favourite hat?" BAIV
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I am pleased that we as an industry have even been recognised by government. It shows all our hard work so far and in the future was and will be worth it. And of course I hope this delivers and delivers soon, and it had better be at the same levels as the film industry!
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Alex Wright-Manning Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Datascope6 years ago
@Chee

I was really hoping someone would go the whole Blackadder hog. Good work that man. Just don't ignore the poo-poo.
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@James - I doubt if it'll happen soon. Maybe if lucky next year. And chances are our new masters in the new govertment will have a word or two about it...
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D6 years ago
As much as I'd love to say Chee is wrong, I suspect he's spot on the money.

I see Develop have mooted the idea of GTA London, but that misses the point of the cultural test - I don't think games would need to be set here to pass that test. Which, I suppose, is the beauty of the test:)

Still, here's to something concrete this time next year. I suspect in a week all the MPs will be scurrying off to their constituencies, so doubt we'll hear anything else until after the election.

Matt, have you managed to contact the Conservative shadow cabinet for their response to this? I'd be keen to know whether they'll publicly back the proposals. I also wonder how many marginal constituencies have significant numbers of games studios in them?
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@ Fran - I'd love to be wrong, and see a Games/Entertainment/Creative sector tax relief much sooner. The thing to take into mind is, whoever sweeps into power in a few weeks time, have the power to hold an emergency budget meeting and thus sweep away a whole raft of ideas proposed during this budget announcement.

A conservative and lib dem majority - are not quite pro games tax relief in line with a message of austerity and tough stance in fixing the economy. Nevertheless, perhaps some sort of concession or continuing talks could be a result of this, thus allowing for forward movement of a independant creative entertainment sector body in partnership with UKTI - i.e allowing for overseas growth, promotion, and internal UK growth and talent attraction (UKTI already does cover this to an extent, and really its looking towards a more expanded UK wide role/effort that currently makes places as Singapore, India and Canada provide more bang per pound sterling.

In contrast, UK has some of the best creative and original creatives in both the Europe and International stage. And its being able to once again provide that platform, especially the small and medium sized game industries that really can help provide game sector growth.

Add in digital distribution, mutiple platform formats and technological advancements and indie startups by veteran teams, there is some real talents awaiting to flourish on the British Isles.
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David Amor Director, MAG Interactive6 years ago
Well done to Richard Wilson, Ian Livingstone and the many others that have been lobbying for some time. My TIGA membership fees will go through unqueried from now on.

I'm going to raise a glass be optimistic. I think this will go through whatever happens in May. Over the last year the videogame industry has gone from an unloved vote-loser industry to a sexy forward-looking industry. Politicians such as Tom Watson (Lab) and Ed Vaizey (Con) regularly show up at industry events. They're not there for cheat codes, they're there because aligning themselves to the industry makes them look good. I think, and hope, the tide has turned. Cheers!
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Dwain Hill6 years ago
congrats and thanks to all those hard working ppl who made this possible!
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Leon Green Political lobbyist & Gamers Voice Director 6 years ago
This is indeed welcome news, let's hope this goes through!
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Grant Dean Head of Top Gear Games, Digital Entertainment & Games, BBC Worldwide6 years ago
Many thanks to all those people who have put in the effort to get it raised this far. It is positive news whichever way you look at it. Thanks TIGA, ELSPA, etc.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Grant Dean on 25th March 2010 9:31am

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Good news. Hopefully the tax incentives will be put to good use by everyone. I'd hate to see it wasted on inflated returns for shareholders alone.
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